In 1982, a massive star ship bearing a bedraggled alien population, nicknamed "The Prawns," appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. Twenty-eight years later, the initial welcome by the human population has faded. The refugee camp where the aliens were located has deteriorated into a militarized ghetto called District 9, where they are confined and exploited in squalor.
Enter Wikus Van De Merwe, played by Sharlto Copley, who's been assigned the task of getting said aliens to voluntarily move to another ghetto. Wikus stumbles upon a mysterious can, which he accidentally sprays himself in the face with, and shortly after starts experiencing some... alien symptoms.
The creatures he initially regarded as foes eventually become his only hope, as he turns more and more like them, and is eventually chased out by his own, human, race when they notice. The campaign for getting the aliens to another ghetto turns into a strife to survive, and return the aliens to their home world, so that maybe he can become human once again. But can he... become human, once again?
It's an aggressive story - though it starts off more like a news reportage, shot in documentary-like style, and manages to keep that authenticity even in the latter, more action-based scenes, like the one where he's hopping around in an exo-skeleton blasting at the soldiers trying to keep his alien friends from entering their ship.
I watched this movie a few months ago now, but for some reason it's stayed in my drafts, getting pushed further and further down. Now that I've seen Arrival, I was reminded of this, and all their similarities.
It's not about the language, but the similarity it shares lies in the unorthodox approach to the alien concept, or rather: the more humane one. One that spirals out of control just the same, but also seems to deliver a message, and tie in to our real-world problems of immigration, and integration, and racial slums. Not so much slums in the latter, but definitely real world problems. These two movies take the alien topic from threat to potential neighbor. Like this is something that just might happen any day now.
Maybe watching the movie with the mindset to learn more about our world isn't the right one, but you'll get plenty of that along the way. It's an action, sci-fi, drama, adventure venture with even a bit of post-mortem love. It's one of a kind, with Sharlto Copley putting on a killer performance as the main character. It's almost like... he's not human. Great watch.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle